Race Report: Bottas wins Russian GP

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2020 Russian Grand Prix, Sunday - Steve Etherington

The weekend looked set to celebrate Lewis Hamilton’s record-equaling 91st win and given that Mercedes has won every single Russian Grand Prix at Sochi and Lewis was on pole position, there was every reason to believe it would happen.

Unfortunately for Lewis, he did two practice starts outside of the area designated for doing them and gained a total of 10 seconds in penalties which compromised his race and left him in third looking at the tail of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull who followed Valtteri Bottas home.

Win

A win for Mercedes who continues their Russian GP domination and a win for Valtteri who took the victory. As much as I can appreciate Valtteri’s radio message telling fans who doubt him, “**** you”, I think it is worth bearing in mind that it took Lewis being removed from the lead with a penalty, and as the only other car capable of giving Bottas a run for his money, it diluted his message to doubters. I understand Valtteri’s frustration and it is clear that the negative commentary bothers him but that was a bit uncalled for.

A win for Red Bull and Max Verstappen for a terrific second place and while they didn’t have the car to challenge Bottas, Max capitalized on Hamilton’s penalty, recovered from a poor start and brought home serious points. Max’s qualifying lap was fantastic and put him in this position to take 2nd.

A win for Sergio Perez and Racing Point for a terrific 4th place. With Lance Stroll being punted off track by Charles Leclerc, it was down to Sergio to pick up the pieces and he did so with a quiet drive to 4th but his pass on Ricciardo was my pic for pass of the race. Perhaps the team will hide the trophy from him too? I JEST!

SOCHI AUTODROM, RUSSIAN FEDERATION – SEPTEMBER 27: Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1, 1st position, sprays champagne on the podium during the Russian GP at Sochi Autodrom on Sunday September 27, 2020 in Sochi, Russian Federation.

A win for Daniel Ricciardo and Renault for a nice 5th and 7th place finish for Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon. Renault have made good progress in the last several races and Dan even garnered a 5s penalty by bumbling the team order pass but he put his head down, admitted his mistake and said he would drive faster and cover the penalty which he did.

A win for Ferrari and Charles Leclerc for a 6th place finish and given his pace and the lack of shove in that car, a 6th place is a win. He did have that opening lap moment with Lance Stroll and the Canadian felt it was penalty worthy but the stewards didn’t agree.

A win for Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly for a dual-points finish for Alpha Tauri in Danny’s home grand prix. Good strategy starting on Hard compound, running long and a tidy race with some good passing from Kvyat.

Fail

A fail for Lewis Hamilton who did a practice start twice in the wrong place and to be fair to Lewis, I am surprised the team let him (or told him) to do that as they knew the rules that Michael Masi had released during the weekend about the area for practice starts. Lewis suggesting that the stewards were trying to stop him is in poor taste. The rule would have applied to any other driver had they did a practice start from that location.

A fail for McLaren who had Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris out of the points and comprehensively beaten by Renault and Racing point. There is now just 7 points between them, Renault and Racing Point.

It pains me to say it but it was a fail for Alex Albon and this wasn’t the race he needed. He has such good passing instinct and aggression and his recovery drives are terrific but Red Bull didn’t hire him to qualify poorly and then have to engage in heroics every race to recover to points. They need him on Verstappen’s tail and he hasn’t been. Again, I like Alex a lot and I hope he can turn that around quickly.

WTH

A WTH for Carlos Sainz who went wide on turn 2 on the opening lap and misjudged the bollard cut-through clouting the wall and ending his race. Carlos admitted he misjudged his speed and hit the wall and it’s not something you would expect from the Spaniard.

The practice start infraction that garnered two 5s penalties for Lewis is a bit odd. The penalties also had two points added to his license leaving just two more before a race ban. Then, hours after the race, the stewards removed the points penalty from his license saying they received information that Lewis was told to do the practice starts in the incorrect place. Maybe they did as a news report said stewards heard radio messages to that effect but that would be very strange for a team like Mercedes to have been told the practice start location and then instruct Lewis to start outside of that area. Does that sound like something Mercedes would blatantly miss having been told by race director Masi about the practice start locations? Very strange.

A WTH for the Bollard Grand Prix.

SOCHI AUTODROM, RUSSIAN FEDERATION – SEPTEMBER 27: Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1, 1st position, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 2nd position, and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1, 3rd position on the podium during the Russian GP at Sochi Autodrom on Sunday September 27, 2020 in Sochi, Russian Federation. (Photo by Mark Sutton / LAT Images)

Pirelli Key Moments:

  • Just as he did in 2017 – his first Formula 1 victory – Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas won in Russia from third on the grid. The Finn took the lead after his team mate Lewis Hamilton served a 10-second penalty during his pit stop. Bottas on Yellow Medium stopped 10 laps later, switching to White hard tyres.
  • Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who finished second, used exactly the same strategy as Bottas, making his sole stop a lap earlier. They were the only drivers who qualified in the top 10 of the grid to start the race on the Yellow medium tyre.
  • Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who finished third, ran a soft-hard strategy, but his tactics were dictated by Q2 yesterday (when he set his best time on the soft) and having to serve his penalty during the race. He rejoined in P11 and made his way back up to the final podium.
  • Three drivers (McLaren’s Lando Norris, Red Bull’s Alex Albon, and Williams driver George Russell) took advantage of a safety car on the first lap to change onto the hard compound. Only one of them – Norris – attempted to get to the finish on this compound, but was forced to come off them in the closing stages and switch to medium, after 46 laps on the same set of hards.
  • Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri) finished his home grand prix in eighth, as the highest placed of just two drivers to start the race on the hard compound. The other, Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen, completed a 35-lap opening stint on this tyre.

POSDRIVERTEAMGAP
1Valtteri BottasMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team1h34m00.364s
2Max VerstappenAston Martin Red Bull Racing7.729s
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team22.729s
4Sergio PerezBWT Racing Point F1 Team30.558s
5Daniel RicciardoRenault DP World F1 Team52.065s
6Charles LeclercScuderia Ferrari1m02.186s
7Esteban OconRenault DP World F1 Team1m08.006s
8Daniil KvyatScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1m08.740s
9Pierre GaslyScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1m29.766s
10Alexander AlbonAston Martin Red Bull Racing1m37.860s
11Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing ORLEN1 Lap
12Kevin MagnussenHaas F1 Team1 Lap
13Sebastian VettelScuderia Ferrari1 Lap
14Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo Racing ORLEN1 Lap
15Lando NorrisMcLaren F1 Team1 Lap
16Nicholas LatifiWilliams Racing1 Lap
17Romain GrosjeanHaas F1 Team1 Lap
18George RussellWilliams Racing1 Lap
Carlos Sainz Jr.McLaren F1 TeamCollision
Lance StrollBWT Racing Point F1 TeamCollision
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sidewayskid

Lewis and team managed to screw up his race. But thank goodness the protest went well. How many points for protest? Focus on the race “world champions”.

Fabio

Those Dutch really know how to vote for Driver of the Day,
Surely it had to be Perez and not Max.

Worthless Opinion

Great summary. Basically a lousy race to watch, but it was interesting to see Lewis out of position and remind us of two things we tend to forget when he’s out in front cruising and managing his pace – 1) what a super fast driver he is. To see him go from near last to third and the utter velocity of that car on wasted tires before the pitstop when he unleashes everything he is as a driver – wow! and 2) what a lousy little person he really is unless everything’s going his way. All this ‘no one else… Read more »